I'm ready to move up

I’v been kayaking many years with an Old Town Otter kayak and feel like it’s time to upgrade. I’m looking for something faster, light, and has some storage space for some day trips. I am not a terribly skilled paddler but plan on taking a class in the spring.

So I’m asking, what kind of kayaks should I be looking at? Im not even sure where to start.

I paddle on saltwater lakes for the most part, but would love to take to the beach or paddle in a bay…


SO many choices and price ranges!

– Last Updated: Jan-09-10 3:10 PM EST –

Have you looked in the buyer's guide?You need to post height ,weight,and budget to get a better answer and then wait until after your class to decide.

We feel your pain
Lots of factors will narrow your choice and the first one is money. Have you seen something you like? Do you want knew or used. Buying new gives you more options. What kayaks are available in your area. You already know the “Perfect kayak” doesn’t exist but looking around and making a few decisions will narrow your field. Your kayak is out there waiting for you to decide.

yeah, forgot to mention…

– Last Updated: Jan-09-10 4:26 PM EST –

Im 5.7 and 150pounds. My dealers around here carry Perception, Current Designs, Necky, Old Town, and Eddyline for the most part. I want to keep it below 1500 dollars if I can.

research used boats
First of all, enjoy the research and the journey to finding the right kayak. It’s a big part of the fun of paddling. This is the perfect time of year to buy a boat.

Start monitoring Craig’s List and the newspapers in your area. I got a lightly used Necky Looksha iV that way for $700 and it was a $1,600 boat. I also picked up a Perception Whip It (white water) for $125 on Craig’s List. Every time a kayak is listed, google it and do some research on it. Also monitor this web site and more local kayak sites.

Consider blems. I just purchased a $3,000 Epic 18X for under $1,800 from the factory because they had to repaint the deck because there was an issue with the original paint. The boat looks perfect and had never been paddled.


Tell the truth
Which boat has your attention? It’s the one that you have looked at a dozen time? I’ll bet you have seen it on the internet and regardless what advice is given it is probably the one you’ll end up happily paddling and filling with fish.

lesson, basic safety features
Since you plan to take some lessons in the spring, I’d recommend waiting until after that experience to buy a boat. You should have the opportunity to paddle a few different boats during your lessons, and get advice on what to look for in a boat.

As you mentioned that you are interested in expanding your paddling area to include the ocean, I’d suggest that you should be looking at boats with forward and aft watertight compartments, and perimeter deck lines. For self-rescue, make sure you don’t get a boat that has such a high aft deck that you have trouble getting yourself up on the back of the boat from the water.

So many !!!
It will help those trying to suggest if you give us some help first.

Put these in order of importance to you.







Once you have this, we will be able to guide and narrow it down for you.

Well, check out the buyer’s guide articles here for kayaking as a start, but like other posters noted, post the pertinent info.

And while you’re at it, why not post a personal profile so we can see what’s up with you? We’re not ALL axe murderers and profile thieves here (except for CDWH and FatElmo, who use their pens because they’re mightier than their electronic eavesdropping devices), so it’s a good and safe environment to provide that sort of info for.

Most of us understand your enthusiasm -we’ve been through it ourselves! But, as another poster noted, why not wait ‘till spring when you take that class, as that’ll afford you a chance to paddle at least one school boat, and from that you’ll be able to make at least several rudimentary projections on what you might be looking for. Additionally, there might be one (or more if you;re lucky) ‘demo days’ within driving distance come spring; these allow attendees to test drive any number of boats in a usually relatively benign environment, so you can compare and contrast different makes, and within one manufacturers line, different models, to see what seems to fit your particular bill.

And as another poster posted, don’t be afraid to go used -of the 8 boats we’ve owned, only two were bought new (and one of those in part because it was half price), along with 2 of 5 sets of paddles, 3 of 6 PFDs, two of four roof rack systems, and some other gear as well. And all the used items worked just fine, and saved us quite a bit of money.

You’ll also need to ask yourself just how far you think you want to go with all this paddlin’ activity stuff… You can get a boat that works for you just fine, but, like your current situation, leaves you still wanting more. In that case, it’s an even better idea to wait and test paddle a wider range of boats, to see if you can tolerate some that seem a tad advanced for you now, but ones which, with a little seat time and effort, you’ll ‘grow into’ as the saying goes. If you can identify with this, then it argues even more strongly for you to wait until you’ve had a few more paddles in a wider range of boats under your own keel before making a decision, pulling the trigger, and buying a boat.

At any rate, all the best in your search, and hang tough through the cabin fever until you can get out and try several boats and THEN make a decision on which one will work for you to


-Frank in Miami

Get one with bulkheads fore and aft. The rest is like buying shoes. get one that feels right for you.

And perimeter lines

– Last Updated: Jan-10-10 11:23 AM EST –

That and two bulkheads are bigger water minimums, which is where you aspire to paddle it seems.

Mostly I agree with Nate and others above though. Get some lesson - look around you for winter pool sessions - where you work on bracing and similar manuvers so you get a good sense of how it has to fit you. Then look for a used boat to get you started. The first one is rarely the final one, so no reason to break the bank on it.

You don't mention where you paddle - but if you are within reach of beaches I'd be surprised if there wasn't some club or outfitter running pool sessions within range of you. What's your location?

buy used
I agree with the suggestion to buy used. When you buy new and then change your mind or decide to go in a different direction, you will lose $500-$1500, depending on what kayak you buy new. If you pay market value for a used kayak, you should be able to easily sell it with a loss of $100-$200 max. Used price should be 1/3 - 1/2 off new price for a kayak in good to excellent condition. Stay away from basket cases unless they’re given to you. Life’s short, spend your time enjoying paddling, not patching a damaged kayaks.

When you have paddled for a few years and have decided on the conditions you want to paddle in and the type of kayak you want to paddle (material, length, width, rudder, skeg, amount of rocker), buying new makes a bit more sense-if you keep the kayak for many years.